The individual suspected in the apparent random shooting of a woman at the San Francisco Embarcadero waterfront should have been previously turned over to federal immigration officials for deportation.
The suspect had already been deported to Mexico five times, and had multiple felonies on his rap sheet in the U.S., NBC News Bay Area reported.
San Francisco is a so-called sanctuary city, and as a result, local authorities apparently declined to turn the man over to Homeland Security after he was set free from the county jail in April after being taken into custody on a drug-related charge.
Kathryn Steinle, 32, of Pleasanton, California, who recently moved to San Francisco, was tragically shot and killed Wednesday night as she was walking on the pier — a popular tourist destination — with her father.
“It was not immediately clear who — if anyone — was the intended target of the violence in an area popular with tourists, joggers, and parents pushing strollers,” SFGate noted.
Steinle’s father and other bystanders performed CPR on the shooting victim until EMTs arrived. Steinle died at San Francisco General Hospital.
The gunman, identified by multiple news outlets as Francisco Sanchez, a man in his mid-40s, was captured by police about an hour after the Wednesday night shooting at Pier 14 with the help of witnesses who took pictures of the suspect on their cell phones.
“Sanchez is on probation from a criminal conviction in Texas,” the San Jose Mercury News detailed.
According an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, the agency turned Francisco Sanchez over to San Francisco police March 26 on an outstanding drug warrant. “ICE issued a detainer for Sanchez in March, requesting to be notified if he was going to be released. The detainer was not honored,” AP explained.
Drawing a distinction with an active warrant, an official with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office insisted that “It’s not legal to hold someone on a request to detain. This is not just us. This is a widely adopted position.”
“ICE places detainers on aliens arrested on criminal charges to ensure dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails into our communities,” the agency said in a statement.
“There does not appear to be any connection between the victim and the suspect,” a San Francisco police official told ABC News. “At this point, it appears to be a random shooting incident.”
The firearm used in the crime has yet to be recovered, though a gun was subsequently fished out of the bay by police divers. Tests will be conducted to determine if it was the murder weapon.
[Image credit: Ingrid Taylar]